Beyoncé once asked us “Who run the world?” and she answered her rhetorical question with the short, sweet answer: “Girls.” However, in today’s society, that’s not really the case.
Currently, in the UK, out of 650 members of parliament, 195 of them are female. This makes 30%. The population of the UK is roughly 64.1 million. Over half of which are female. How is it that, even though there are more women in the UK, men hold 70% of the seats in parliament? I believe that this inequality begins at a very young age, and the only way to change this for the future is to get girls interested in politics and current events, and to raise young girls and boys on a level playing field. Therefore, the next couple of hundred words will be about ways in which to get girls and young women interested in politics, and how to give them the support and resources needed in order to get involved, if they so wish.
Education gives people the tools to go further in life, and to achieve their dreams. Teach girls about powerful, important women who have come before them. Teach your daughters and sisters about Rosa Parks, Boudicca, and Emmeline Pankhurst. Learning about these powerful women proves to young girls that women before them have made a difference, and that they themselves also have the power to make a change for what they believe in.
It may seem a bit mundane to be teaching your little girl about political parties and international affairs, but teaching girls about politics is hugely important. Don’t assume that it’s too complicated or boring for her; it is about her future and her life and the world she lives in. It is completely relevant, and very important, so teach her about it. She doesn’t need to know everything in one go; you can still keep it age-relevant, but make sure that she is kept up to date with what’s going on in the world, and what’s going on with the people who have the power to change it.
I know that there were a painful amount of people that I went to school with that, when they turned 18, and had the right to vote, still didn’t know enough about the current political situation and what the parties stood for. The youth is the future, and they deserve to be taught about this, so that when they are old enough to vote, they are educated and can make a well-informed decision.
Leading by example
Stand up for women’s rights. For women to be given the same opportunities as men, they need equal rights. This includes the topic that has been very popular recently: rights to their own bodies. We need to stand up today for the rights of future women, so that they can have more equality than we do.
Raise boys to respect girls, and to see them as equals. Teach your sons and brothers to work alongside girls and to listen to their ideas and opinions. This can’t be a one-sided fight, and if women are going to become more prominent in politics, men need to vote for them.
Get her angry about the right things. Obviously, excessive anger isn’t great. But currently, women don’t get paid the same as men. Tell your daughter that. Explain her that it is unfair. Is there a women’s rights march near you? Bring her to it, and show her that she can make her voice heard. Teach her that if something is unfair, or she doesn’t agree with it, she should do what she can to make it right.
Women who stand up for their own rights, and those of others, are often very quick to be labeled ‘Feminazis’. This idea that women who stand up for what they believe in are somehow related to a fascist regime is fundamentally damaging to females everywhere. Let your daughters, sisters and mothers speak up, and, even better, speak up with them.
Allow girls to want to be successful. If a young girl wants to become the Prime Minister, who are you to tell her she can’t? She can do anything she puts her mind to, and nurturing these dreams when girls are young gives them a great base for striving to achieve them when they are older.
My favourite childhood author, Dr Seuss, once wrote something very profound in his book Oh The Places You’ll Go, and it is something that should be told to every little girl (and boy, for that matter), no matter their goals and dreams:
“Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”